StairMaster machines simulate the effects of climbing an endless staircase. For some people, this might not sound like a good time at the gym, but StairMaster machines are very effective at building your cardiovascular capacity and helping you lose weight. Stair climber machines also build lower-body muscle in ways that treadmills and other cardiovascular exercise equipment do not. Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.
Determining Workout Needs
When you are designing your StairMaster workout plan, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you carefully think about your workout goals. While you can use your StairMaster to meet the ACSM's general physical-activity guidelines of 30 minutes per day five times per week, the machines also typically include programmed workouts for fat loss and building cardiovascular capacity. Choosing a workout plan aimed at a specific goal will help you achieve more substantial results faster.
Research conducted at the Harvard Medical School indicates that a 155-pound person can expect to burn 223 calories every 30 minutes from "general" use of a stair-stepping machine. Working out harder on the StairMaster machine will help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, but as you increase your workout intensity, your body uses fewer calories from its fat stores and begins using them from other tissues, such as muscle. Exercising at a lower intensity will increase the percentage of calories from fat you are burning, but will decrease your overall calorie burn. Before you begin your StairMaster workout plan, you should select a workout intensity level that is appropriate for your goals and sustainable throughout the entire workout.
The intensity of your StairMaster workout plan will determine how many days a week you need to perform it. A moderate- to low-intensity workout requires you to exercise around five days per week, the ACSM advises, while a high-intensity routine only requires two or three days a week. Ensure that you leave ample recovery time between workouts if you are using a high-intensity program to build muscle in your legs.
How you position your body on the StairMaster affects which muscles you use and the quality of your workout. Stand upright on the machine for a standard StairMaster workout. Though you may use the handrails for balance, you should not be supporting yourself with them or using them to help make the workout easier, the ACSM explains. Lean forward slightly with your back straight to emphasize the exercise in your glutes and hamstrings.